Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is scary to think about for many new parents. If you find yourself wondering and worrying about your baby's sleep environment, take heart. While experts don’t know exactly what causes SIDS, they do know that it’s rare, and that there are plenty of things parents can do to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Precaution starts during pregnancy. You can give your baby a head start by getting proper prenatal care. Be sure to avoid smoking and spending time in smoky environments when you're pregnant.2. Place your baby to sleep on her back. Whether it’s naptime or nighttime, babies under 1 year should always be put to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS.
3. Place your baby on a firm, safe sleep surface. Your baby’s crib should meet current sleep safety standards (find out more at cpsc.gov) and the crib mattress should be covered with a fitted sheet.
4. Keep extras out of the crib. That means no stuffed animals, loose bedding, pillows, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters, or any other objects that could potentially suffocate your baby while she sleeps.
5. Sleep near your baby. Keep her crib or bassinet within arm’s reach. But don’t have him sleep in your bed, which can actually increase the risk of SIDS.
6. Breastfeed and immunize. Doing both can reduce the risk of SIDS, according to research.
7. Keep your baby comfortable but not hot. Signs your baby might be too hot include sweating or a hot chest or forehead. As a rule of thumb, you only need to dress him in one more layer than you would wear to keep warm.
8. Offer a pacifier. Pacifiers given during sleep or naptime may reduce the risk of SIDS. But if your baby isn’t interested, that’s okay — you don’t have to force it.
9. Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. Despite what the package’s label might say, wedges, special mattresses, and sleep positioners have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.